My Shingle

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 11.56.37 PMOver the years, I’ve pierced this blog’s professional veil to share glimpses of my personal life: my ongoing struggle to balance parenthood and practice, my father’s passing, my daughters’ growing up and my oldest’s departure for college last August. Yet I’ve rarely, if ever, blogged about or even mentioned my husband — which come to think of it, is odd because it was actually Bruce’s idea to develop MyShingle as a blog (rather than a static portal for everything solo, which was characteristic of websites circa 2000). In any event, below are a few of my comments from my remarks at Bruce’s funeral last Friday.  By the way, this is the hardest blog post I’ve ever written.
My husband, Bruce Israel was the silent partner in my practice. A talented software engineer who worked at companies like Google and Amazon and regularly received weekly phone calls from headhunters avid to place him (they kept calling even when he told them he had brain cancer), Bruce kept my firm’s technology operating seamlessly and securely. Magically, the operating systems, browsers and apps on my Mac and phone routinely updated; I didn’t realize until after Bruce fell ill that the new versions didn’t install automatically, but were the result of his late-night dalliances with my machines. Over the years, Bruce’s skills gave me an edge.  Bruce introduced me to HTML, which enabled me to launch a firm website in 1994.  And he installed Slashcode – a first-generation blogging platform – so that I could set up the first version of MyShingle and join the first wave of legal bloggers.

Bruce’s support for my work wasn’t limited to technology.  He handled his share of child-duty – picking our daughters up from school, studying with them for tests, bragging about their prodigious math skills (his genes) and taking them sightseeing when I was fortunate enough to bring my family with me to business events all around the country and the world. Because Bruce worked for employers while I worked for myself, truthfully, I had more flexibility and so I can’t say like some that we shared child and home responsibilities 50-50. But so what? Bruce balanced me in other ways – things that roiled me rolled off his back and he talked me down from countless bridge-burning e-mails.

What’s more, I never much cared about a 50-50 split because Bruce gave 100 percent on the things that really counted.  When it came to supporting my firm, my ambitions and unconventional (and let’s face it, often rash or foolish career choices), Bruce had my back, fully and unequivocally – not just with words, but with deeds. When I started my firm after I’d been laid off and money was tight, Bruce bought me a $1500 Toshiba laptop that we really couldn’t afford because of my constant complaints about being tethered to our desktop in the dreary basement. I’d been too afraid to invest even that much in my practice because I wasn’t sure that I could make it work – but Bruce had faith in me before I had it in myself.  When Bruce was diagnosed with brain cancer last July, leaving me as the sole breadwinner to support our family and two private school tuitions, I panicked – but he never worried.  Bruce was sure that I could manage and so I did. When someone completely and thoroughly believes in you, it’s really that simple.

Throughout our marriage, Bruce made few demands. But there’s one that preference that he insisted on while choosing between inscriptions on our wedding invitations that forever stands out.  A typically besotted bride-to-be (though to be fair, I avoided Bride-zilla’ism) I favored the classically romantic This is my beloved and my beloved is mine , while Bruce strongly preferred This is my beloved, this is my friend. I deferred – not so much because I liked Bruce’s choice but rather because I didn’t want to seem too bossy.

Of course, over the years, I realized that Bruce was right after all. Throughout the chaos of our 23-year, two-career, two-child and two-pup marriage, let’s just say that Bruce didn’t always feel like my beloved, nor I his, in the middle of a messy, chaotic kitchen with sticky counters not properly wiped down, or screaming (usually me) over something trivial like a weak wireless Internet connection or packing up the car for a trip. But every single day of our marriage, Bruce was my friend, my partner, my sounding board and, in Billy Joel’s words, my home .

Over the past week, even as I am truly, deeply and utterly grateful and and awed humbled by the outpouring of generosity by online and offline friends and family members who have comforted and supported my daughters and me during these tough times (I will be writing thank you notes for the next 25 years), I can’t help but feel a pang each time I reflexively look for Bruce to share my amazement. After all, he’s the first person with whom I’d typically marvel over good fortune like this – and he’s not here.  At times like these, I miss my beloved husband, but most of all, I miss my friend.

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As with the legal profession, medicine is rapidly changing, driven by technological advancements, cost pressures and physician shortages.  Healthline reports on some of the  new business models cropping up in response.

One company, Turntable Health is a subscription service. A flat fee of $80 per month buys an adult an unlimited amount of monthly visits – not just with doctors, but also health coaches or participation in yoga and healthy cooking classes.  Another service, Heal will dispatch a doctor and medical assistant for a house call, perform bloodwork or tests and authorize a prescription if needed – all for $99.

The new business models serve several goals. First, they make reduce the cost to access a doctor, so even those individuals with high-deductible health plans can still afford a visit. And in turn, by encouraging individuals to seek treatment for minor problems, these new services can resolve these matters before they become more serious and more costly to treat. [click to continue…]

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Thanks to technology, advance directives- legal documents that specify what actions should be taken if patients are no longer able to care for themselves – are readily available. Free advance directive forms abound online at sites like this, while those who don’t care to read through lengthy instructions can create an advanced directive at Legal Zoom for 39 bucks simply by checking through a couple of boxes.  So isn’t the story of advanced directives Richard Susskind’s vision come to life: freely available, do-it-yourself legal documents that don’t require a lawyer.

Except for one thing. Turns out, that advanced directives prepared by rote, while entirely legal are also completely useless. And what’s more, it’s not ye olde legal guild criticizing advanced directives, but doctors who first-hand view of how advanced directives actually work – or don’t work – in practice. [click to continue…]

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Summer Fellowships at LOCE & MyShingle

by Carolyn Elefant on April 27, 2015 · 0 comments

in Announcements

Both my firm and this blog, MyShingle.com are sponsoring 2-3 paid, 6-week fellowships this summer for rising 1-Ls or 2-Ls.  The position is posted online here. You can apply either through that site, or directly to me by sending the required materials to elefant@myshingle.com. The positions start May 25, so I’m accepting applications as soon as possible and hope to make decisions in the next two weeks.

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If you’re looking to steal a rival law firm’s Google Thunder, the coast is clear (except in North Carolina) opines Professor Eric Goldman in a soon-to-be-published SSRN article, Regulation of Lawyers’ Use of Competitive Keyword Advertising.

Goldman explains that use of a competitor’s name as a keyword violates neither publicity rights nor trademark law, noting that “no trademark owner has achieved a courtroom victory in a competitive keyword advertising lawsuit since 2011.” As for legal ethics codes, Goldman takes the position that use of a competitor’s name as a keyword is not deceptive because it does not create the impression that the lawyer has any affiliation with the competitor. Moreover, Goldman points out that when consumers search a law firm name, they are often looking to find competitor ads, so “competitive keyword advertising is consistent with their expectations.”

Nevertheless, in 2010 Formal Ethics Opinion, North Carolina banned keyword ads by lawyers, finding that:

The intentional purchase of the recognition associated with one lawyer’s name to direct consumers to a competing lawyer’s website is neither fair nor straightforward.

Florida, however, took the opposite approach, and allows competitive keyword advertising so long as the resulting links are clearly labeled as advertising. [click to continue…]

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Ethics Is Only 1/5 of What Lawyers Need to Know For A Digital & Dynamic Practice

April 13, 2015 by Carolyn Elefant

Like law, the energy and utility industry where I spend my days has traditionally been heavily regulated.  What that means is that rules for participants or relief for consumers come by way of regulatory commissions rather than statute or contract. But that model changed when utilities dipped their toes into social media where as this […]

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Best Bet for Finding A Legal Job After Law School: Bet On Yourself

April 6, 2015 by Carolyn Elefant

Although employment prospects for new law grads are showing signs of life, overall post-graduation employment remains at a dismal  56 percent average rate for all law schools.  And while connections, solid skills and networking can improve the odds of finding a position , your best bet for finding a job after law school may just […]

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Determination of A Bonafide NY Office Requirement Is Next Step To Its Demise

April 3, 2015 by Carolyn Elefant

The New York Journal reports on a recent Court of Appeals ruling interpreting NY Judiciary Law §470 as requiring attorneys who are not residents of New York to maintain a physical office in the space to practice. That physical office requirement means a real space – not a kitchen table or a corner in Starbucks. […]

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What Makes A Great Client?

March 31, 2015 by Carolyn Elefant

Tales about  clients from hell abound. Visit any lawyer listserve and you’ll encounter weekly threads populated with complaints about crazy clients or advice on how to fire them. Bad clients aren’t exclusive to the legal profession either – doctors deal with them and one designer even set up a Clients from Hell website dedicated to them. […]

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Stop the Madness: How The NYCLA’s Ethics Opinion on LinkedIn Forces Lawyers To Act Deceptively And Violate Linked In’s User Agreement.

March 24, 2015 by Carolyn Elefant

Deceive – to mislead by a false appearance or statement By now, in 2015, most of the general public over the age of 21 have been using Google, Facebook and LinkedIn for nearly a decade. During that time, they’ve acclimated to the culture of each of these online universes, and grown as adept in distinguishing […]

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